Internship Spotlight: Felipe Aas

As I am double majoring in political science and geography, I am fascinated by the intersection between these two areas of study. As such, I set out looking for an internship that would allow me to explore my interest in geopolitics. The internship at the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace allowed me to do just that, as I explored the geopolitics behind China’s ambitions and objectives in the Arctic region. Moreover, I wanted to intern at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as I wanted to experience what it would be like to work in the “policy bubble” in Washington D.C.. As I attended several conferences and roundtable discussions at other think tanks, I did just that.


The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is the oldest foreign-policy think tank in the United States. The think tank is headquartered in Washington D.C. and has centers around the world. Its mission statement has been - since its conception in 1910 - to “hasten the abolition of war, the foulest blot upon our civilization”. As such, peace is advanced through analysis and development of policy ideas and direct engagement and collaboration with decision makers in government, business, and civil society. The think tank has, to this end, been largely successful and is therefore, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania, the third most influential think tank in the world.


In 2006, Carnegie Endowment launched a revolutionary plan to build a global think tank. One that could understand and benefit from an increasingly globalized world. As such, it has expanded from its headquarters in Washington D.C. to Beijing, Beirut, Brussels, Moscow, and New Delhi. Consequently, the think tank is in a superb position to champion its cause through a global network of researchers and analysts. Carnegie Endowment’s work mostly relates to the publication of research and creating forums in which a wide-range of actors can come together to discuss the creation of a more peaceful world. Needless to say, the possibility to work at Carnegie Endowment is one that is invaluable, allowing one to work towards creating a lasting impact on issues around the world.


At the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C., I have been working with the director of the Europe Program, Erik Brattberg, to outline Chinese activities in the Arctic. As such, during my internship I have had the opportunity to attend various roundtable discussions and workshops concerning European affairs. For instance, I attended the EU-Foreign Policy Defense Forum 2019, which allowed me to gain a better understanding of European affairs and the ways in which defense capabilities have been developed to secure the strategic importance of the Arctic.


During my internship I have done research to outline Chinese ambitions in the Arctic region, as well as Chinese economic activity in the eight Arctic nations. Moreover, I have written case studies for each of the Arctic nations to demonstrate the effect that China has had in the Arctic. For instance, in Canada, Chinese firms have become increasingly interested in mineral resources in the Canadian Arctic, which has presented the Canadian government with an opportunity to leverage support for its claims of sovereignty over the Northwest Passage. Moreover, during my internship I prepared talking points for Erik Brattberg on a wide range of topics. For instance, I created a series of discussion points on the EU-Taiwan relationship which was later expanded to become a policy paper. Consequently, I have had the opportunity to research a number of topics that have aided my greater understanding of geopolitics.


One of the highlights from my internship was when I completed all the readings that I had set out to do when I was in the initial research phase, as it was a significant amount of material and it gave me the sense that I had gained a more profound understanding of the topic. Additionally, attending the EU-Foreign Policy Defense Forum 2019 was a highlight as it was held at the U.S. Institute of Peace, a building in Washington D.C. that I had never seen, and it gave me the feeling that I had managed to break into the “policy bubble”. As such, this internship has shaped my education path as I have decided that I want to pursue a master's degree in political science. I received funding from the Arts Student Employment Fund Faculty of Arts Internship Award, which helped me as it allowed me to completely commit myself to my unpaid internship, as opposed to having to balance the responsibilities of my internship with the need to finance my stay in Washington D.C.. As such, funding from McGill was critical to the quality of my work at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

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